Nightime Operations 9-3-2012

A short nighttime session before bedtime.

11 Engineer - Lorenzo
13 Foreman - Patrick
14 Helper - Greg


I set up a tuning fork test track. Just a lead a turnout and two stubs. Patrick and I switched it for an hour with our new Kato SD40-2 with a LokSound decoder. We pulled out a couple of Atlas 17,600 gal. Corn Syrup tank cars, an Atlas PressureAide hopper, a BLMA 64′ Trinity Reefer, an Exactrail 64′ Trinity Reefer, and an Athearn 50′ box car. We ran in the dark with only our blue lights on.

This is the first trains on The Industrial Lead!


Switch List Application

I’ve been working on a new switch list operations application. The application only needs to provide basic information. I just need to know what cars are where, and where they are going next. And maybe car type and length.

I built the application with a WordPress plug-in called DB-Tookit. It interfaces with the mySQL database back end and helps build the front in forms and UI. It’s a fairly good program, but I’ve run in to a few limitations. For instance, I haven’t been able to select out multiple fields from a joined table. I know how to do it in SQL, but DB-Toolkit doesn’t have an interface to write your own queries. My main goal with DB-Toolkit is to have an effective database interface for the back end.

I’d like to have a nice web-based front end interface that will present the user with sortable track lists; with the capability to sort cars by drag and drop from track to track. I found a couple of JQuery drag & drop scripts to try this out. The most promising is Touch Punch, because it also supports touch gestures like on iPad/iPhone. I Especially like the Sortable lists, or a combination of them. Another example:

Of course when a user updates the sortable track lists, I’d like to enter that data back to the database. Before I get deeper into this project, I need to decide if I really want to take the time to learn relearn PHP and Javascript to develop a decent app. I don’t want to get to far off course.

Other Programs

Before I started developing the switch list application I took a hard look at what existed. I spent a few days working with Easy Model Railroad Inventory but I don’t think it will suit my needs. I really like a program called SwitchList, but it is only available for Mac OS X 10.5, I have a PC. I’ve also tried building a program with OpenOffice Database & Spreadsheet, but I’d really like this to have a web interface.



I spent the early part of the day entering data into Easy Model Railroad Inventory. It has a lot of fields, to help you keep an extremely detailed record of your equipment. I entered a dozen freight cars and one locomotive. I spent a good deal of time entering consignees and shippers for the Operations features of EMRI. When I got a decent set of data, I couldn’t figure out how to print up a simple track list, I couldn’t figure out how to even get the cars in to a track. I don’t think it’s designed down to that level of operations detail. Quite honestly it’s a great program for keeping track of your rolling stock, but I don’t think it’s going to fit my operations needs.

Minimum Turnouts & Minimum Radii

Tonight I was thinking about minimum turnouts and radii. This is where I need to do some operating. I’ve designed everything with #6 turnouts and 24″ minimum radius, but I really don’t know what HO trains look like running on a #6 turnout. I know in N-Scale the #8s and #10′s look right, everything else looks too small. With these thoughts I designed an alternative Industrial Lead to use #8 turnouts and 28″ minimum radius.  This of course means fewer car spots & less yard space. Am I being too ridiculous when it comes to these minimums. The real answer I guess will come when I actually get some trains on a track and test this out.

Clean Up Progress

I’ve told myself I have to clean up the train room and lighten the train load before I start a new layout. I’ve listed and sold 226 auctions on ebay during the last two months. I have another 4 items for sale now and one tote left to sell.

I’ve consolidated the crap from my workbench (that never got used as a workbench) and placed most of it inside a new roller cabinet. I’ve consolidated all of my scenery stuff into a tote and placed it in the garage. I’ve finished glueing scenery and buildings to my N Scale Alaskan Shipping FreemoN Module and it’s going to the garage in the morning. When I get a pair of strong hands I’m moving the workbench to the work garage and the work desk (that never gets used as a work table) is being sent back to the Goodwill.

Next Steps

  • Finish clean up and reorganization of storage.
  • Finish sales.
  • Remove closet shelving.
  • Fix closet desk (it’s droopy).
  • Spackle holes in wall.
  • Paint room.
  • Build layout.

Track Plan 22 - Alternative Plan #8 Turnouts & 28″ Minimum Radius

Track Plan - Industrial Lead 22 Alternative Plan

Track Plan - Industrial Lead 22 Alternative Plan


© 2012 Greg Amer
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